Sunday, May 25, 2008

Priests that aren't, sins, and meat

Today is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Kagan, father in law of our retiring leader, who Farbrenged in honor of the occasion last night. It wasn't one of those Farbrengens that are transferable to the written word, which is probably a good thing. One thing he did say was that Rabbi Kagan went into Yechidus to the Rebbe back in the day, and said that he had a problem, "I feel that I'm a great guy." The Rebbe replied, "Start doing things to justify that feeling." Soon after the Rabbi Kagan started his thought for the week, which eventually became a bunch of books. Point is, if you accomplish lots of shtuff, then it doesn't matter if you have the wrong motives.
Moving right along, want to clear up some loose ends from the whole Tachanun thingie we had going. It's a clear Halacha in the Alter Rebbe that you have to cover your face while doing Nefilas Apayim, and since your arm can't do this, you need a sleeve or something. Why can't your arm do this? Because something can't cover itself, i.e. your body can't cover itself. Using Tefillin for this purpose is, as I pointed out, unnecessary, as the Alter Rebbe anyway mandates the use of a jacket during prayers.
Additionally, I just want to say once and for all that it's a clear Din in Shulchan Oruch that you should try your hardest to sit down during Nefilas Apayim, and anyone who doesn't is simply being a very bad boy. Really, is it that difficult to sit down? This is an issue that constantly vexes me.
And last but not least, how about Rubashkin? I just saw an editorial somewhere that said something along the lines of, "If Rubashkin has all these ethical problems, how do we know that they don't have Kashrus problems?" My opinion is that A. they have Kashrus problems, B. who cares? and C. why are their other problems ethical in nature? Why do I think they have Kashrus problems? Because everyone says they do, and where there's smoke there's bound to be fire. If anyone cared, which they don't, they would do something about these problems, but as I say, no one does anything, so obviously they don't care. KAJ taking their certification away doesn't count as doing something, because I highly doubt Rubashkin lost any business due to it. Most Lubavitchers think that Shor Habor is a farce, and I for one don't believe any differently. Is Aarons any better? Probably not. But as I said, who cares? Weissmandel can burn for my eating Treif, if in fact I'm doing so.
And ethics? Why is hiring illegal workers, who are the only ones who'll do what you want for the price you want, unethical? My ethics are Torah and capitalism, and neither of those says we should discriminate against Mexicans who weren't fortunate enough to be born north of the border. Torah does say that you should treat your workers well, and Rubashkin by and large does that. Do you know why these illegals come here to work in the first place? Believe you me, it's not for the weather. They come here because they get a lot more money here. And that's a good thing. What's not a good thing is when do-gooders try to impose their stupidity on the rest of us.
And now feel free to disagree with everything I've just written. Go ahead, it's your prerogative.

22 comments:

Eliezer said...

I intuit that if illegal aliens were mentioned in a political context rather than a bad-pr-for-the-Jews-and-especially-the-Lubavitchers context, you'd be railing against the said aliens.

The Real Shliach said...

Absolutely not. I'm a big fan of Hispanic labor and immigration. This country was built on the backs of immigrants, they're what make us great, and xenophobia is moronic in the extreme.

Eliezer said...

But what about the rule of law? If immigrants are so great, let more of them in. Isn't there something wrong, in principle, with letting the fence-jumpers stay in the US, while the patient line-waiters are in Mexico?

Eliezer said...

Here's how you have the latest poll's results:
5 people really like their 8th Note from Yossi Green, 2 went for the classics with Avraham Fried's Forever One, and Keinehora from Lipa, Road Marks the Whole from Yosef Karduner, and Chazak from Avraham Fried each garnered one vote.

Here's the properly punctuated version:
5 people really like their 8th Note from Yossi Green. 2 went for the classics with Avraham Fried's Forever One and Keinehora from Lipa. Road Marks the Whole from Yosef Karduner and Chazak from Avraham Fried each garnered one vote.

If my version does not say what you wanted it to say, know that the fault lies with you and your faulty punctuation.

The Real Shliach said...

What's your problem? Let all of them in.

The Real Shliach said...

Happy now?

Nemo said...

It's a whole economic issue and it affects the entire labor market. When illegal aliens take penny-pinched manual jobs, American citizens are harder-pressed to find sufficient work because they're not willing- and rightfully so- to work for such mediocre and illegal salaries.

So while the owner of the factory benefits and cuts their own costs, less Americans have what they need, which in effect means less money spent and higher unemployment rates, which in effect drives prices up for the consumer, etc. etc. V'ain L'Davar Sof!

Illegal workers is a big problem in the bigger picture.

Nemo said...

If their are certified Shochtim, Bodkim and Mashgichim, why should you think that you're eating Treif? I have no doubt that the meat is Halachikly Kosher ...

Ethically "kosher" may be another story, but we're neither the defense nor the prosecution, so until anything is verified through investigation and legal proceedings, I'm going to happily eat Rubashkin meat ... at least so long as the prices stay level.

Oh, and the allegation of being unethical is because of Dina D'Malchusa. And in our government interventionist form of capitalism, illegal workers are very illegal and unethical.

The Real Shliach said...

Yes, it is a whole economic issue, but no, it's not as simple as you make it out to be. Want to be able to afford to eat meat? You won't be able to if there's not a lot of minimum wage shtuff going on at Aarons. As for Kashrus? What's the reason we don't eat Empire? Lubavitch Shochtim, Mashgichim, etc. Reason is that the plant is simply too big to trust. Or because we've been convinced that Aaron's is any better. Look, Halachicly, you can eat Hebrew National! They also have Lubavitch Shochtim and Mashgichim.
And last but not least, ethical Kashrus is bogus. Legality has a place in the market, and like they say in baseball, "if the umpire doesn't catch you it's not cheating", but there's no ethics involved, primarily because no one else has 'em. And don't try telling me Jews should be better, especially Russian Jews, which the Rubashkins patently are.

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R. Shlaich: The last point of your first paragraph intrigues me, as in fact does the whole episode you describe. Why do you believe that feeling positive about oneself is "the wrong motive?" I would suggest that there is no problem with "feeling positive," but rather, using it for the wrong ends. The lesson from this incident, as I see it, is that such "feelings" are beyond our control. What is under our control, is what we do with such feelings. Ideally we should ride with the feelings and convert them into positive, but practical, outcomes. This I believe is the lesson to be derived from the Rebbe's response. I remain, as always, your loyal reader, Leo d T.

The Real Shliach said...

What I intended was that he was feeling "full of himself", but I wanted to write that in a nice way. Otherwise, your point remains.

Nemo said...

"You won't be able to if there's not a lot of minimum wage shtuff going on at Aarons."

A. We're talking about less than minimum wage here. And forced overtime, and other forms of exploitation.

B. In the eventual long run, if everyone did what they were supposed to, the market could be saved and the prices reduced. The current recession has a lot to do with the lack of jobs in America. (granted many of them have been taken overseas because of rising labor costs in the US).

"Reason is that the plant is simply too big to trust."

Have you ever been to a Shlachthois? The average Shochet kills more than 500 chickens per hour, even in the small facilities. Size doesn't matter if your people are reliable.

"but there's no ethics involved, primarily because no one else has 'em."

This defense is the legal equivalent of the kid claiming he was just doing what everyone else was doing; usually followed by the rhetorical, "would you jump off a bridge if everyone else was doing it?" Incidentally, the defense doesn't work in Torah law either.

It is understandable that Rubashkin functioned this way, but in turn, it's not justifiable. If hiring illegal workers was the only allegation, it wouldn't be so troubling. But here we have a case of exploitation and abuse, which, if they should be found guilty, would not be an easily excusable crime. People will stop buying their products very quickly- think Chinese government.

"And don't try telling me Jews should be better"

I agree with you in principle that their Jewishness shouldn't be such a big factor in the debate because Agri is chiefly a business. It is naive to look up to a business as a spiritual and ethical icon, and bringing the religious factor up is a cheap irrelevant ploy by the companies detractors.

Anonymous said...

Iowa watcher says...

Let me get this straight - you see no ethical problem here?
How about a company that engages in and promotes child labor? Or allows rape by its supervisors to take place in the plant? How about extortion - workers who were forced to pay a bribe in order to get a job at Agriprocessors? How about physical abuse of your workers? Is that an ethical problem? How about the violation of Jewish law regarding the treatment of workers? Is that an ethical problem? How about the violation of US law? How about cleaning the plant after shabbat begins, but paying workers from a different company you control so it doesn't appear that you're violating shabbat?
This company has done great harm to the image of Jews in this country, the kosher consumer and to the institution of kashrut. But you don't think this is an ethical problem?

Nemo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nemo said...

Anonymous- Do you truly believe all those allegations? It seems a bit sensationalist to believe that a company that knew they were under scrutiny would allow all of this to happen. There were always secret cameras filming what happened in the plant. It sounds like every possible allegation that could come out is just being thrown out there, perhaps by unionists, Conservative activists via the media, former workers looking for a plea bargain, or other people with a stake in destroying the company.

I highly doubt most of the allegations are true and firmly believe that these stories are surfacing in an attempt to further besmirch the company. If some of the events did in fact happen, such as "sexual favors," they were isolated incidents that have nothing to do with the corporation (or Orthodox Judaism).

The Real Shliach said...

The problem when I don't check my mail for a while is that these comments pile up. I'm too lazy to deal with all the issues raised, so I'll just say that A. Most of the allegations are probably not true, as per Nemo, B. Aaron's is unlucky that they got caught, C. if conditions were really that bad, then people would leave. No one's accusing Rubashkin of slavery here. D. Re: Kashrus-I've been to the plant, and don't tell me that everything's hunky-dory there. In any big food operation there are kulos flying left and tight, and Rubashkin is no exception. E. I still eat their food with gusto.

Nemo said...

Kulos aren't the same as saying that there's "Kashrus problems." Hizaharu B'Divreichem!

The Real Shliach said...

Fine. It's Kosher. How Kosher? Who knows. Who cares. Fact is, their pre-made hamburgers are Shvache Maasos. The "Aaron's Select" all chicken-breast chicken nuggets are, on the other polka, out of this world.

The Real Shliach said...

It seems like I'm always on the losing side of arguments...(Awe)

Nemo said...

See, I don't know if you're right there either:

While there are certainly more meatier, heartier, better-tasting burgers, and not to mention less rubbery, there is something to be said for having a stack of burgers waiting to grill in your freezer. Sure, they're not homemade patties, but when you're hungry, its not all bad. It got me through many late nights during my stint in Mo'town, so for that alone I am thankful.

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. Real Shliach: You, and certainly your readers, would benefit from reading a book by Upton Sinclair called "The Jungle" about the meat industry in Chicago in the early part of the 20 century. Based on your comments, and the reading I've done in the press, little has changed in this industry (kosher and/or non-kosher) since then. Your faithful reader (while chomping on a hamburger) Leo de Toot.

The Real Shliach said...

I can't speak for my faithful readers, but I have in fact read it. Honestly, things are a lot better, at least from my few visits to Rubashkins, then they are in Sinclair's description. Listen, it's a slaughterhouse, there's lots of blood and guts flying around, but at least now there are USDA people to give it all a Hechsher.